A weight of words but not of coins…

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What a weight of words are supported by this little ledge. The first of these blogs appeared on the last day of May and more than 130,000 words have been amassed since then.

That’s an achievement, I’d say, the same length as a weighty whodunit. A lot of words tapped out for an hour or so most mornings, a helpful discipline in difficult times, a life-raft for a dented ego.

What it doesn’t represent is any money. Blogging is something people do for the fun of it. And that means for nothing. For me this is a positive experience, apart from the impecunious side.

You see I used to have a proper job. It didn’t pay a lot but had its rewards. For the most part newspapers don’t pay well, unless you are a big-name columnist. According to a report last May in the Daily Mirror, Boris Johnson earns the equivalent of £2,291 an hour as a columnist, on top of his salary as Mayor of London and an MP.

Pretending to be a clever buffoon, a clownish toff catering to the masses turns out to be a smart career move, although one I don’t have the background for. Or the flyaway hairstyle. Or the flyaway mouth.

Let’s leave aside the political part of Johnson’s pay packet and concentrate, with a degree of envy that is frankly disturbing, on what he earns for writing his column.

According to the Mirror, which studied the first register of MPs interests published after last May’s general election, Johnson was paid £22,916.66 by the Telegraph newspaper in May 2015 – for writing five columns, listed on the resister as adding up to ten hours’ work.

To which this penny-rattling newspaper columnist turned blogger can only say a Johnsonian bloody hell chaps, for fear of saying something far worse. If I was paid Boris Johnson-style for one column a month I would be a happy man – and a less worried one.

All these blogging words haven’t earned me a penny, but they have kept me sane, or as sane as anyone can be who spends hours at home alone hunched over a laptop.

As well as the blog I have written and then rewritten a political thriller cum crime story (another 100,000 words, excluding those that ended up on the floor). The book has been with my agent for three or four weeks now, and as the gap grows between delivery and verdict, so too does my sense of panic and insecurity.

Only a fool bases a post-redundancy new life on earning a living from writing, so with a shameful bow let me introduce myself. Putting words together has earned some money in an enjoyable and rewarding way, writing features for the Yorkshire Post. They like a decent-length article on the Post, with room for around 1,500 words on one of their Big Interviews. Done three of those, with another one due, possibly this weekend. So there have been patches of sunlight in the shadow valley, but not enough to sew a living together.

I like this life but it is being paid for out of redundancy. Bits of copywriting have helped, but that source has dried up for now. Jobs have been applied for without any joy. Some look good and interesting, some do not. One job here in York was good and very well paid, but I only got as far as the interview before the interview.

Occasionally people ask if I won’t just apply for any job; sometimes my wife asks me the same question with a look in her eye. I put that look there and feel it is my fault, although blame for the collapse of the newspaper industry probably lies elsewhere.

So, yes, something has to happen within the next few months. This blog could keep me entertained indefinitely. Regular readers seem to enjoy my efforts. That means a lot, so thank you. But this man wandered onto a ledge many months ago and has yet to find a way off.

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